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UK slashes red tape in apprenticeships scheme

'Key industries' include BT, Phones4U - and McDonalds

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Companies such as BT, Phones4U and McDonalds could benefit from a new streamlined apprenticeship scheme which will let them get young workers into their offices with less paperwork.

The cuts to the red tape that currently surrounds apprentice contracts, workplace certification and inspection should mean that employers spend less time filling in data returns and more time passing on their vital know-how.

The streamlined process is being trialled with 20 big employers including BT. Measures for SMBs will be announced in the autumn.

Workplace vetting and auditing of placements have been cut in the attempt to simplify the process. Additionally, some of the paperwork has been pushed online.

The changes do more than just tinker with the scheme, said BT Director of Education and Skills Andy Palmer, they cut out swathes of bureaucracy.

Palmer said: "For the last year, BT has worked as part of The Department for Business Innovations and Skills' Employer Reference Group to improve the system and reduce the burdens on employers. The changes we are proposing will have a significant impact on bureaucracy rather than merely tinkering at the edges.”

The government has created 360,000 apprenticeships this year and funding is in place if businesses cannot afford to pay the new apprentices themselves. Key industries targeted by the apprenticeship schemes include advanced manufacturing and engineering.

"The government has put the expansion of a high-quality, employer-led apprenticeships programme at the heart of a reformed skills system. […] In July the prime minister announced details of a new Higher Apprenticeships Fund to help key industries including advanced manufacturing and engineering develop the advanced skills needed to drive growth and create an ownership society."

The scheme is advertised to young people on the Apprenticeships website as an opportunity to: "[e]arn while you learn and get recognised qualifications" and to employers as a chance to "improve your bottom line through motivated new talent". The apprentices are paid minimum wage, which for 16- to 18-year-olds is £2.50 an hour. Apprentices 19 and over receive a minimum of £2.50 a hour in the first year and then the national minimum wage after their first year. ®

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